Farming Through the Seasons

Farming Through the Seasons

Target Grade Level / Age Range:

1st - 2nd Grade

Time:

30-45 minutes

Purpose:

Students will learn about differences in seasons through the lens of what farmers do in each season.

Materials:

  • Four large sheets of paper or a marker board

Suggested Companion Resources:

  • Farming, Gail Gibbons, ISBN 978-0-8234-0797-2

Vocabulary:

  • Seasons: the four divisions of the year ~ winter, spring, summer, and fall ~ marked by particular weather patterns and daylight hours, resulting from the earth’s changing position with regard to the sun
  • Harvest: to gather the crop as a harvest
  • Machinery: machines of a particular kind, machines in general

Background – Agricultural Connections:

  • A general understanding about the changing of the seasons, and what farming practices take place in each
    • Spring
      • During the spring of the year is when crops are planted. Farmers may also till their fields, use pre-emergence herbicides (before the weeds start to grow), or apply fertilizers.
      • Most livestock chores will be consistent year-round. However, beef cattle farmers are more cyclical in their management. These farmers will try to have all of their cows calve in a short window in the spring of the year. Some farmers will have their cows calve in the fall, but other farmers are concerned about the colder temperatures in the fall, and the implications that could have for the newborn calves.  Farmers try to shorten their herd’s calving window, because it is a very demanding time. If cows need assistance in the middle of the night, it can be a matter of life and death for both the cow and the calf. Beef cattle farmers are kept on their toes during this season.
    • Summer
      • The summer is an interesting time. Farmers will be monitoring crops for weed control, fertilizer needs, or other pest management practices. If the farmer has hay ground, they will also cut hay and bale it for animal feed during the summer months. Similar to hay, farmers may also chop silage (a fermented corn feedstuff) and store it during the summer months.
      • Livestock chores in the summer will likely be consistent, but during these months, farmers will be monitoring temperature and making sure their animals are not getting overheated. Summer is also the time for fairs and livestock competitions!
    • Fall
      • The fall most notable for the harvest season. Farmers will run combines through their fields to harvest their crops, and will either store them in grain bins on their own farm, or take them to a local co-op for storage and eventually sale.
      • As stated earlier, some beef calves will be born in the fall. Regular chores like feeding, watering, and monitoring for sickness will be done in the fall, as well as other seasons.
    • Winter
      • There isn’t much to do in the fields in the winter, so farmers use these months to review their yield maps and management practices to decide how they should proceed the next year. This is also a good time of year to do any maintenance or repairs that the equipment might need.
      • The winter poses opposite problems as the summer in terms of livestock care. Farmers will monitor the temperatures and make sure their animals are staying warm enough. If animals like cows are outside, farmers also take measures to ensure that their water source doesn’t become frozen.

Interest Approach or Motivator:

Tell students that they are going to read a story about what happens on a farm. The book will tell them what happens on a farm through all of the different seasons. Review with students what the four seasons are. What do they think happens on a farm in the four different seasons?

Procedures:

  1. Create a chart for the seasons either on the white board, or using four large sheets of paper. Write one season as a heading in each of the four quadrants of the chart.
  2. Review the four seasons: winter, spring, summer, and fall. Include in the discussion what the weather is like in each season and what the students enjoy doing during the season.
    1. Draw small, simple pictures representing weather next to the season headings as students give suggestions.
  3. Now that we remember what we like to do in each season, make some predictions about what would happen on a farm in the different seasons. Record predictions on the marker board.
    1. Create a subheading for predictions in each season’s quadrant. Write the students’ predictions here.
  4. Read Farming aloud as a class.
  5. Compare what happens in each season to what is written on the board.
    1. Add a list of what happens on the farm in each season as stated in the book. Help students if they are having trouble thinking of what to add or correct.
  6. Next, compare one task throughout the seasons
    1. Choose one item (chickens, for example) and compare what happens with that item throughout the four seasons.
    2. Pair students up. Have each group choose an item in the book and compare what happens with it throughout the four seasons.
    3. Regroup as a whole class and share what they have found
    4. Write down a few examples that different groups had shared.
  7. To wrap up the class period, have students take out a sheet of paper and fold it into four sections. In each section, have the students write one of the four seasons. Tell students to pick one of the jobs that a farmer does, and draw a picture of it in each of the four seasons.

Did you know? (Ag facts):

  • The average farm size in Iowa is 345 acres. An acre is about the size of a football field.
  • Only 2% of the American population is involved in production agriculture.
  • 97% of farms are family owned.

Author:

Molly Petersen

Organization Affiliation:

Maple Valley Anthon-Oto Elementary, Title I/Reading Recovery teacher

National Agriculture Literacy Outcomes:

  • Agriculture and the Environment:
    • T1.K-2.a Describe how farmers/ranchers use land to grow crops and support livestock.
    • T1.K-2.d Provide examples of how weather patterns affect plant and animal growth for food.
  • Plants and Animals for Food, Fiber & Energy:
    • T2.K-2.a Explain how farmers/ranchers work with the lifecycle of plants and animals (planting/breeding) to harvest a crop.
  • Food, Health, and Lifestyle:
    • T3.K-2.b Recognize that agriculture provides our most basic necessities: Food, fiber, energy, and shelter.
  • Culture, Society, Economy & Geography:
    • T5.K-2.a Discuss what a farmer does.
    • T5.K-2.b Explain why farming is important to communities.
    • T5.K-2.d* Identify plants and animals grown or raised locally that are used for food, clothing, shelter, and landscapes.
    • T5.K-2.f Trace the sources of agricultural products (plant or animal) used daily.

Iowa Core Standards:

  • Social Studies:
    • SS.K-2.E.1 Understand people are both consumers and producers.
    • SS.K-2.G.3 Understand how human factors and the distribution of resources affect the development of communities and the movement of populations.
  • Science:
    • 1-LS3-1 Make observations to construct an evidence-based account that young plants and animals are like, but not exactly like, their parents.
    • 1-ESS1-2 Make observations at different times of year to relate the amount of daylight to the time of the year.
    • 2-LS2-1: Plan and conduct an investigation to determine if plants need sunlight and water to grow.
    • 2-ESS1-1: Use information from several sources to provide evidence that Earth events can occur quickly or slowly.